R&B is inherently sexy. The genre is defined by its sensuous rhythms and steamy blues, sounds that stir listeners’ attention. It is when impassioned lyrics come into play and turn things up a notch.
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No decade of R&B was sexier than that of the 1970s. Fresh off of an era of change, the ’70s were a time of personal liberation, and what better way to express those new freedoms than through song? Here are seven of the sexiest R&B songs of the 1970s.
1. “Love To Love You Baby” – Donna Summer
Love-making songs can set the mood with their coyness, and their penchant for beating around the bush. Others do it in a more direct fashion, fueling the flame with every well-placed word, or in the case of Donna Summer’s 1975 hit, “Love To Love You Baby,” every well-placed moan.
Growing from a persistent beat comes a funky guitar riff and the disco icon’s crystal clear lilt. Its title aside, the song is direct. In a build-up of breathless moans and the mingling of effervescent lyrics, like Do it to me again and again / You put me in such an awful spin, “Love To Love You Baby” lets listeners know exactly what’s up, leaving very little to the imagination.
2. “Close the Door” – Teddy Pendergrass
Close the door / Let me give you what you’ve been waiting for / Baby, I got so much love to give / I want to give it all to you, opens Teddy Pendergrass’ “Close the Door.” Another tune that doesn’t waste time hemming and hawing, the 1978 hit makes desires known.
The song’s sensual melody is simply the tease before Pendergrass even begins to sing, revealing what is going to take place behind the closed door. More of the singer’s intimate desires are exposed in his 1979 song, “Turn Off the Lights.” Spoiler alert: hot oil is involved.
3. “Feel Like Makin’ Love” – Roberta Flack
While not as blunt as the previous tracks, Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love” still refuses to creep around her cravings. The singer knows what she wants and lays it out in the 1974 song. For the singer, it’s the little things that get her in the mood and her simplistic song reflects that.
4. “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Baby” – Barry White
Barry White is sex. Armed with his loin-stirring baritone and swoon-inducing lyrics, White crafted a catalog in the 1970s that was pure passion. His 1974 signature, “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Baby,” spells out his yearning perfectly against a backdrop of intoxicating strings and pulsating drums.
Girl, all I know / Is every time you’re near / I feel the change, huh / Somethin’ moves / I scream your name / Look what you got me doin’, White ponders ahead of a chorus of Can’t get enough of your love, babes. His sensual ballads were almost gospel-like as he turned his lovemaking tunes into sacred songs that went beyond lust.
5. “Pillow Talk” – Sylvia
Hey, baby, let me stay / I don’t care what your friends are ’bout to say / What your friends all say is fine / But it can’t compete with this pillow talk of mine, plays soul singer Sylvia’s risqué hit “Pillow Talk.”
The lyrics to the 1973 song are tame when placed against its arrangement, which bursts and overflows with moaning, heavy breathing, and an outbreak of nice, daddys that close out the tune. For that reason, the song was shortened, and the sensual flourished omitted, in order for it to receive radio time.
6. “Do Your Thing” – Isaac Hayes
Lyrics aside, Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing” is sexy from the jump. The 1971 tune, which appeared on the Shaft soundtrack, opens with a stirring arrangement replete with rousing horns and a sultry rhythm. The composition builds and builds, swelling to an explosive mix of growling strings and screaming trumpets with Hayes’ seductive baritone as the only respite to the climaxing funk concerto.
7. “Let’s Get It On” – Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye was no stranger to crafting hits on the more carnal side. His 1973 tune, “Let’s Get It On,” especially, was proof of his brazenness when the topic of sex was concerned. Opening in that iconic bwow-wow-wow-wowww, the tune is hot-blooded from start to finish.
I’ve been really tryin’, baby, the song’s lyrics spring free from the arousing arrangement, Tryin’ to hold back this feeling for so long / And if you feel, like I feel baby / Then come on, oh come on, ooh … Let’s get it on. Unabashedly to the point, “Let’s Get It On” is arguably the sexiest song of the 1970s.
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